U.S. prosecutors have seized a network of web domains which they said were used in a campaign by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread political disinformation around the world.
In a statement released late on Wednesday, the Justice Department said it had taken control of 92 domains used by the IRGC to pose as independent media outlets targeting audiences in the United States, Europe, Middle East and South East Asia.
“Today we are 92 domains closer to shutting down Iran’s worldwide disinformation campaign,” said U.S. Attorney David Anderson. “Iran cannot be allowed to hide behind fake news sites.”
The Iranian embassy in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The seizure is the latest move by U.S. law enforcement to disrupt what officials say are foreign interference campaigns targeting the United States ahead of next month’s presidential election.
Prosecutors said the most recent takedown was the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and social media companies Google, Facebook and Twitter.
A Reuters investigation here in 2018 found that the same Iranian campaign used a network of more than 70 pseudo-media outlets to covertly spread Iranian state propaganda in 15 different countries that were geopolitically significant to Tehran.
Investigators at U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye, who first identified the operation two years ago, said the activity showed Iran’s use of disinformation had evolved alongside its wider cyber capabilities.
“Iran has become a prolific actor in the information operations space,” said John Hultquist, senior director of analysis at FireEye’s Mandiant Threat Intelligence unit.